The world’s oldest piece of chewing gum is 9,000 years old! Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Chewing gum is a soft, cohesive substance that is meant to be chewed and spit out rather than swallowed.
In popular culture, chewing on a piece of gum has become synonymous with teeny-boppers. The action seems to carry a youthful and rebellious connotation that can make anyone look “too cool for school.”
Besides, who doesn’t enjoy the occasional bubble-blowing contests? Other than that, adults also keep a tasty piece of gum handy to use as mouth freshener or to simply to give their jaw an occasional workout.
The popularity of this nifty piece of candy can be gauged by the overwhelming variety of brands and flavors flooding the market nowadays. There is a gum to appease every taste, and gums come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes.
Although spearmint and peppermint continue to be the most preferred flavors, people with a more health-conscious bent of mind are increasingly opting for sugar-free varieties.
Regular gum is packed with sugar, which can accelerate tooth decay. This should be reason enough for you to give its sugar-free counterpart a try.
A lot of people are quick to assume that sugar-free gum is entirely bland, thinking that it will be akin to chewing a piece of rubber. Little do they know that this healthful variant is devoid of artificial sugar but contains xylitol, which is a natural sweetener made from birch bark.
Xylitol is renowned for its ability to prevent plaque from adhering to the surface of your teeth, thereby staving off dental decay.
Chewing gum also helps stimulate salivary glands into action. The increased saliva secretion in the mouth keeps it from drying and thus prevents bad breath.
What Makes Sugar Free Gum a Healthy Treat?
Unlike regular sugar-laden varieties, sugar-free gum qualifies more than just a standard piece of candy. It holds considerable promise for your health in more ways than one, minus any harmful side effects on your teeth and gums.
Here are some of the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum.
1. Maintains Oral Health
Chewing sugar-free gum is good for your oral health.
The process of chewing increases the flow of saliva, which helps wash away or neutralize acids. This helps keep your teeth strong and limits decay, reducing the risk of cavities.
It also strengthens the protective enamel coating of your teeth and reduces tooth sensitivity.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of the Irish Dental Association analyzed the oral health benefits of chewing gum and found that it has a place as an additional mode of dental disease prevention in conjunction with more traditional preventive methods.
2. Fights Bad Breath
Chewing sugar-free gum helps keep your mouth and teeth clean and free from odor-producing bacteria by generating more saliva production.
In a 2004 study, researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago found that chewing cinnamon-flavored gum helps reduce bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath.
The next time you have bad breath, start chewing sugar-free gum. Mint-or sour-flavored gum are most effective
3. Aids Weight Loss
Although it sounds odd, chewing gum can also assist in weight loss.
This happens as the act of chewing gum keeps your mouth busy and thereby helps you resist high-calorie temptations or snacking between meals.
If you frequently find yourself reaching for fattening treats such as a doughnut, candy, or bag of chips, pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth instead.
Some sugar-free gums contain a low-calorie sweetener called sorbitol, which accounts for its faintly sweet flavor. Thus, chomping on some gum might even help satiate your sugar cravings to some extent, which is one of the key reasons behind weight gain.
A 2009 study presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology reports that chewing gum serves as an easy, practical tool for managing cravings and consumption of snacks, especially sweets.
Another study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2015 suggests that chewing may decrease self-reported hunger and food intake, possibly through alterations in gut hormone responses related to satiety.
Always chew sugar-free gum or peppermint-flavored gum to curb your appetite and stop cravings. However, bear in mind that this alone will not suffice to achieve your weight goals. You must follow a reduced-calorie diet and get regular physical activity.
4. Treats Acidity
It stimulates the production of saliva, which is an alkaline agent. This helps neutralize stomach acid and provide quick relief from an acidity problem.
A 2001 study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology highlight the positive effect of gum chewing on pharyngeal and esophageal pH, and it appears to be a useful adjunctive anti-reflux therapy.
Another study published in 2005 in the Journal of Dental Research reports that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce acidic postprandial esophageal reflux.
- After a meal, chew a piece of sugar-free gum or bicarbonate gum to help ward off acidity, but avoid sugary and mint-flavored gum.
5. Reduces Stress
Stress can impact your health, both physically and mentally. To control your stress level, one simple trick is to chew on your favorite gum.
The process of chewing helps reduce the amount of cortisol in the body and release stress. It can even reduce anxiety.
A 2011 study published in Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health found that gum chewing may improve levels of anxiety, mood, and fatigue.
6. Increases Concentration
Chewing gum can also increase your concentration and positively influence your memory and reaction time.
Chewing boosts blood flow to the brain. This, in turn, increases the amount of oxygen available to the brain, which enhances cognitive functioning.
A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Psychology reports that chewing gum can help you stay focused longer on tasks that require continuous monitoring. It can even improve concentration in visual memory tasks.
The next time you need a little help to concentrate on a task, just start chewing a piece of sugar-free gum.
7. Opens Clogged Ears
Clogged or plugged ears can cause a lot of discomforts, including a popping sensation in your ear, a windy sound inside the ear, and a feeling of having something within the ear.
Chewing sugar-free gum is very beneficial in dealing with clogged ears. The act of chewing helps overcome a sudden change in air pressure that causes the ears to become clogged. Chewing opens up the Eustachian tubes, which in turn relieves the excess pressure in the ears.
This is one reason it is recommended to keep chewing gum handy when traveling by air.
8. Helps You Quit Smoking
Anyone who is trying to kick the smoking habit would attest to what a struggle it actually is. Nicotine is the star ingredient of cigarettes and makes these death sticks so harmful and so addictive at the same time.
Smoking makes you so physically dependent on nicotine that cleansing your body of it can feel like a crippling experience and can trigger a number of debilitating withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to quit.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help you in your journey to a smoking-free existence by tapering off your addiction gradually. This form of therapy provides you with nicotine in the form of nicotine gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges, but without the other harmful chemicals of tobacco.
Chewing on nicotine gum can help keep your mouth busy and your mind off the urge to smoke. It can also mitigate the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms to a significant extent, or eliminate them altogether, by providing you with trace amounts of nicotine and easing you in the detox.
However, for nicotine gums to engender the desired effect, it is important that you use it correctly and in the right doses. The recommended dosage differs from person to person and is determined by undergoing a nicotine dependence test.
Also, chewing it in the evening can cause sleep disturbances. To curtail the aforementioned effects, consider chewing nicotine gum at a slower pace than regular gums.
- People with a genetically inherited disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) are advised against the use of sugarless chewing gum, as phenylalanine in aspartame can prove dangerous for their condition.
- Sorbitol, when consumed in excessive amounts, can give rise to digestive problems, such as gastrointestinal distress.
- People who are allergic to aspartame can develop hives anywhere on the body as well as gastrointestinal or respiratory trouble on consuming sugar-free gum.
- Excessive use of chewing gum has also been associated with an increased tendency to experience headaches.
- When choosing chewing gum, opt for sugar-free varieties that contain almost half the calories found in regular gum. This simple switch will save your teeth and gums a whole lot of damage caused by undue sugar intake.
- By no means should chewing sugarless gum be taken as an excuse to forego regular brushing and flossing, which are indispensable for optimal oral health.
- Look for chewing gum that carries the ADA Seal for safety and effectiveness.
- If you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder (TMD/TMJ) symptoms, you should refrain from chewing gum.
- Excessive consumption of sorbitol-containing gum can trigger digestive issues such as chronic diarrhea and stomach pain as well as unexplained weight loss. Sorbitol is known to engender a laxative effect as it is essentially sugar alcohol that is poorly absorbed by the small intestine.
- Moreover, you can end up swallowing a lot of extra-air if you chew gum incessantly. This, in turn, can result in bloating.
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- Aylıkcı BU, Çolak H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633265/. Published 2013.
- Popular Chewing Gum Eliminates Bacteria That Cause Bad Breath. The University Of Illinois At Chicago. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040401080031.htm. Published April 1, 2004.
- Chewing gum reduces snack cravings and decreases the consumption of sweet snacks. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/foas-cgr040509.php. Published April 19, 2009.
- Kergoat SM-, Braesco VA-, Freeman BB-. Effects of chewing on appetite, food intake, and gut hormones: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiology & Behavior. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938415300317. Published July 15, 2015.
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- Morgan K, Johnson AJ, Miles C. Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement. British Journal of Psychology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24754809. Published May 2014.
- Relieve Ear Pressure While Traveling for Better Sleep. National Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/relieve-ear-pressure-while-traveling-better-sleep.
- Stead LF, Perera R, Bullen C, Mant D, Lancaster T. Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18253970. Published January 23, 2008.
- Lippi G, Cervellin G, Mattiuzzi C. Gum-Chewing and Headache: An Underestimated Trigger of Headache Pain in Migraineurs? CNS & neurological disorders drug targets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25714969. Published 2015.
- Mansour MS. The role of Xylitol in caries prevention. The Role of Xylitol in Caries Backention | 84061. https://www.omicsonline.org/proceedings/the-role-of-xylitol-in-caries-prevention-84061.html. Published March 29, 2018.